INSTRUMENT BUYING GUIDE

Our top recommendations to suit all budgets!

Piano / Keyboards

If you’re a beginner, we recommend buying a keyboard before investing in a real piano. Ideally the keyboard should be properly weighted, which is usually called “hammer action”. A full size piano/keyboard has 88 keys, but if these are out of your budget 61 or 73 keys are perfectly adequate for beginners. You may also need a keyboard stand, of which there are two options. We recommend a “Table” stand because it’s easier to sit properly with your feet underneath the keyboard (see accessories at the bottom of the page). If you’re looking to buy a real piano we would recommend visiting several shops with your teacher (as even the same model of piano can sound and feel different).

BUDGET 1: Casio CTK-2300AD (61 keys) – £73

BUDGET 2: Yamaha NP12 (61 keys) – £170

MID-RANGE 1: Yamaha NP32 (76 keys) – £264

MID-RANGE 2: Yamaha P45 (88 keys) – £369

SEMI-PRO: Yamaha P115 (88 keys) – £539

THE BEE’S KNEES: Kawai MP11 (88 keys) – £1,850

Guitars and Ukuleles

Ukuleles come in many variations, with the most popular being the Soprano (which is great for kids). Acoustic and electric guitars come in a variety of sizes, and your teacher can advise you on which one to get (adults should buy a full size guitar). There are also left-handed guitars available! There are some excellent guitar shops on Denmark Street located near Tottenham Court Road. Top tip – a good guitar usually has a small distance between the strings and the fret board; this is called the “action”.

BUDGET UKULELE: Mahalo 2500 – £28

GOOD STARTER UKULELE: Makala MK-S – £39

BUDGET ACOUSTIC GUITAR: Martin Smith W-100 – £46

GOOD STARTER ACOUSTIC GUITAR: Yamaha C40 – £107

BUDGET ELECTRIC GUITAR: Rockjam – £55

GOOD STARTER ELECTRIC GUITAR: Yamaha Pacifica 012 – £133

Bass Guitar and Double Bass

There are thousands of different bass guitars available and it’s almost impossible to know how they feel or sound without playing them. There are many variations, including: shape, size, pickups, amount of strings, etc. We would recommend visiting one of these shops: Yamaha Music London, Wunjo Guitars or The Bass Gallery. A double bass is also difficult to recommend (and they can be expensive) so we suggest talking to your teacher about this.

BUDGET: Stagg BC300 – £99

GOOD STARTER: Fender Squier – £216

GOOD JAZZ BASS: Fender 70’s – £316

Violins

Violins come in a variety of sizes, and your teacher can advise you on which one to get. They range from 1/32 (which is tiny!) all the way up to 4/4 (which is full size for adults). Good violin shops include: Yamaha Music London, JP Guivier and Stringers. TOP TIP – make sure your violin comes with a case and bow (and don’t forget some rosin!). Here are some great options…

BUDGET: Windsor – £50

GOOD STARTER 1: Stentor Student II – £120

GOOD STARTER 2: Yamaha V5SC – £338

MID-RANGE: Yamaha V7SG – £603

Cellos

Cellos are available in a large range of sizes. If you’re taller than five feet, you will be able to use a full-size (4/4) cello. Cellists from four and a half feet up to five feet will feel comfortable with a 3/4 size cello. From four feet to four and a half feet, try a 1/2 size cello. Even smaller sizes are available. If you fall in the middle between two sizes, you will be more comfortable with the smaller size. Your teacher can advise you on which one to get. Good cello shops include: Yamaha Music LondonJP Guivier and Stringers. TOP TIP – make sure your cello comes with a case and bow (and don’t forget some rosin!). Here’s an idea of prices…

BUDGET 1/2 SIZE: Gear4Music – £189

BUDGET 4/4 (full) SIZE: Gear4Music – £199

GOOD STARTER 1/2 SIZE: Stentor Student 1 – £361

GOOD STARTER 4/4 (full) SIZE 1: Stentor Student 1 – £349

GOOD STARTER 4/4 (full) SIZE 2: Primavera 90 – £377

Drums

Most professional drummers build their “setup” over a period of time (adding new cymbals, toms, pedals, etc). If you’re a beginner, we recommend buying a 5-piece drum kit which includes everything you’ll need to get started. Here are some good options…

JUNIOR KIT: Tiger 5 Piece Junior (ages 3 to 10) – £127

BUDGET: Tiger 5 Piece Full Size – £210

GOOD STARTER: Pearl Roadshow – £384

MID-RANGE: Pearl Export – £666

ELECTRIC / SILENT KIT: Alesis DM Lite – £229

Flutes and Recorders

In our opinion, a beginner player should start on a silver-plated flute with closed holes, E mechanism (sometimes called a Split E) and C foot joint. Flutes don’t come in different ‘sizes’ as such, but you can get curved headjoints for a small beginner. This brings the keys of the flute closer to the body, reducing the stretch (see apprentice flute below). Shops worth visiting: Just Flutes, Howarth of London & SaxWindBrass. Here are some great options…

APPRENTICE FLUTE: JFL101 – £195

BUDGET FLUTE: John Packer JP011 MKII – £115

GOOD STARTER FLUTE: JFL201E – £199

MID-RANGE FLUTE: Yamaha YFL-211 – £449

BUDGET RECORDER: JHS Descant Recorder – £4

GOOD STARTER RECORDER: Yamaha YRS24BUKII – £9

Saxophones

Saxophones come in variety of different sizes, with the most common being: soprano, alto, tenor and baritone. Most saxophonists start learning on the alto. Our favourite manufacturers include Selmer, Yanagisawa, Keilwerth and Yamaha. We highly recommend visiting a specialist saxophone shop to try some out. Shops worth visiting: Howarth of London and SaxWindBrass (our favourite). Did you know, the most important part of a saxophone’s “setup” is the reed, ligature and mouth piece. Here’s an idea of prices…

SAXOPHONE STRAP: Rico Padded Strap – £20

BUDGET: Artemis 3757A1 – £299

GOOD STARTER: Buffet 100 – £586

SEMI-PRO: Yamaha YAS-480 – £1,405

PRO: Yanagisawa AWO1 – £2,013

THE BEE’S KNEES: Selmer Mark VI – prices vary

Trumpets

Bb trumpets are by far the most common in the trumpet family. With a warm tonal quality that blends nicely with ensembles of all types, the Bb trumpet is widely used across virtually all types of music, from classical to modern pop and jazz. Bb also is the most common tuning for beginners, as there is a large body of written music and instructional material available for the Bb trumpet. Shops worth visiting include: Phil Parker, SaxWindBrass and Yamaha Music London.

BUDGET: John Packer JP051 – £125

GOOD STARTER 1: Jupiter JTR-408L-FQ – £299

GOOD STARTER 2: Yamaha YTR-2300 – £388

French Horns

The most basic type of French Horn is the Single, which only has one length of tubing and three rotary valves. They are available in two different forms relating to their natural pitches of F & Bb. Single horns are generally only used by beginners as they are the cheapest and lightest options available. Many manufacturers now also produce Compact Singles which are the same length but the tubing is wound much tighter making them easier for smaller children to hold. Eventually though, all French Horn players will be expected to use an instrument that incorporates both F & Bb tubing, otherwise know as a Double Horn. Shops worth visiting: SaxWindBrass, Paxman Musical Instruments Ltd (specialist horn shop), and Yamaha Music London. Here’s an idea of prices…
COMPACT SINGLE HORN: Elkart 100 Mini – £249
BUDGET SINGLE Bb HORN: John Packer JP161 – £269
BUDGET SINGLE F HORN: John Packer JP162 – £279
GOOD STARTER Bb HORN: Stagg French Horn – £425
MID-RANGE DOUBLE: Levante by Stagg – £840
SEMI-PRO DOUBLE: Paxman Academy – £1,895
THE BEE’S KNEES: Paxman Model 83 – £12,000

Accessories (music stands, capo, lights, tuners, etc)

PRACTICE BOOK: Trinity Guildhall Notebook – £2

MUSIC BAG: MusicWear Wavy Stave – £7

MUSIC STAND 1: Tiger – £20

MUSIC STAND 2: RAT-69Q13 – £95

LIGHT FOR MUSIC STAND: Mighty Bright Orchestral Light – £46

BASIC PIANO STOOL: Tinkertonk – £44

KEYBOARD SUSTAIN PEDAL: M-Audio SP-2 – £16

X KEYBOARD STAND: Duronic KS2B – £22

TABLE KEYBOARD STAND: Stagg MXS-A1 – £29

INSTRUMENT TUNER: Snark Clip On – £15

SAXOPHONE STAND: Stagg WIS-A30 – £10

TRUMPET STAND: K&M Folding Trumpet Stand – £14

GUITAR STAND: Tiger Folding Stand – £9

GUITAR FOOT STOOL: K&M 14670 – £9

ACOUSTIC GUITAR CAPO: Kyser – £14

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